"Islanded"ed in Your Kitchen

4 years ago

When thinking of your dream kitchen, many picture a large open space to entertain in, complete with an island.  The kitchen island is a place for prep work, to provide extra storage, an eating area, and more often than not, a place to hangout.  There are several things to think about when designing your kitchen island whether it be for a remodel or new construction.


1. Is there room for an island in your kitchen?  This is the first question you should ask yourself.  There needs to be ample amount of space for your island as well as walk around space, minimum of 36-inches.  The preferred space between wall cabinets to island cabinets is 42-inches, and if there is an appliance 48-inches is what's needed in order for appliances to open completely without hitting cabinets.  Note, if your kitchen is small and there is not really any space available for an island, the island is useless if you will not be able to move about freely in your space.

The Kitchen Designer

2. What type of storage is the island providing?  Will you place appliances in your island or maybe plumbing?  Will your island store recipe books?  Will your island have seating?  These are all questions to ask yourself when designing the island layout.  They will determine how much storage you will actually have and determine if you have cabinets or drawers or both.


Vining Design Associates

Designer Daryl Carter's kitchen in his D.C. town home, island with antique Italian etagere adds a vertical dimension and extra storage.

Elle Decor, photographer Simon Upton




3.  What type of configuration will your island be?  The configuration will depend on the size of your kitchen, i.e. the length and width.  But there are ways to give your island a little personality and oomph.  For example we can chamfer the sides, add decorative elements like corbels or trim details, etc.  


Below chamfered corners on the ends of this island I designed for a client.

Vining Design Associates

Decorative corbels flank the ends of this island and allow support for the extended marble countertop at  designer Louise Brooks' home.

Traditional Home, photographer Tria Giovan

Vining Design Associates

4. What height do you want your counters?  Do you want your island to be all one height?  There are two options to go with here, counter height, 36-inches, and bar height, 42-inches.  Both are great looking, it's just a matter of preference and look.


One of the displays in the Eggersmann Houston showroom showing a bar height counter and counter height.

Eggersmann Houston Showroom

Designer Marc Appleton.  Here the island looks like a farm table with a stone top.

Architectural Digest, photographer Scott Frances

5. What design style will your kitchen island reflect?  This depends on what you decide on your overall kitchen design, and the island should contribute to giving more character and style to your kitchen.  Your island can bring in a pop of color to the space or blend with the rest of the kitchen.  There are various materials to choose from, countertop, wood, metal, and tile.


Vining Design Associates


Eggersmann USA


Designer: Liz Caan

Traditional Home, photographer Michael Partenio

Designer Henri Quinta had the island topped with zinc-top.

Elle Decor, photographer Thibault Jeason

If you have a large enough kitchen you can have double islands, as seen in this kitchen designed by Suzanne Lovell.

Architectural Digest, photographer Scott Frances


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